How to Become a Barrister

While many Canadians think that they must study law (and only law), in order to become a barrister, the truth is that most chambers like a well-balanced intake. They recruit roughly 50% each from law and non-law backgrounds. Why? Because having a degree other than law helps you handle cases differently. Panels like well-rounded individuals that aren’t too academic in the way they present their cases and like creative thinkers. Regardless of your major, if you did well, you have just as much an opportunity to be picked as someone who did study law.

Note: If you’re a non-law graduate, you will have to take either a GDL (graduate diploma in law) or a CPE (common professional exam) conversion course before taking the Bar. After that, you—along with those who have studied law—will take the BPTC (Bar professional training course).
There are three stages to becoming trained as a barrister:

  • Academic: The first step is to get an undergraduate degree, or law degree, that will help you compete with others wanting to enter the Bar.
  • Vocational: This step is completed once the BPTC is completed. It normally takes one to two years depending on whether you decide to go to school full time, or part time.
  • Pupillage: The final step to becoming a barrister is to actually learn from accredited barristers who supervise your training.

How to Impress Pupillage Panels

While a degree is important, it does not trump a good character and there are many traits that can be developed outside of a degree. Recruiters look for how intellectual the applicant is, the applicant’s eloquence, how confident they are, if they think quickly, if they are resilient, and if they are self-motivated. They look for people who are dedicated to the law, volunteering and law-related work helps prove your devotion. Becoming a barrister is hard, you depend on your own reputation and skill to earn a living.

Begin developing a positive reputation as soon as you can with law firms and communities.